I was impressed by Amazon’s S3 online storage storage service (web-services based storage priced aggressively – $0.15 per gigabyte/month, $0.20 per gigabyte of data transer), and now they’ve topped that with their “Elastic Compute Cloud”, aka EC2.
EC2 lets you set up virtualized linux computing power, where you have complete control over the machine image. It’s a remarkable and powerful concept. As Amazon says:
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables “compute” in the cloud. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.
Given the issues that universities, including the UW, are having with trying to keep up with the space/power/cooling demands in our data centers, he vision of being able to easily outsource computing power at reasonable prices is very attractive.
Thanks to Rael for pointing this out.